During the last week, the heat that has been affecting much of the nation's heartland all summer has shifted into the western United States. As a result, wildfires have flourished in parts of the West, particularly in Idaho and northern California. By August 20, the area burned by year-to-date U.S. wildfires reached 6.9 million acres, well above the 10-year average of 5.3 million acres. Meanwhile, serious agricultural drought effects persist east of the Rockies, despite cooler weather and recent showers.
Weather Update and Outlook: Cool air that has been blanketing the Plains and Midwest in recent days will gradually erode. In fact, hot weather has already overspread Montana, and near- to above-normal temperatures, with high temperatures occasionally topping 90°F, can be expected across the Plains and Midwest during the mid- to late-week period. The next opportunity for fairly widespread showers and thunderstorms across the Plains and Midwest will begin around August 23, when a series of weak cold fronts will begin to cross the region. Meanwhile in the Northwest, cooler air will arrive toward week's end, but mostly dry conditions will persist.